On the Frontlines:
I had my reservations as to whether the flashback setup that started the season – with Will’s band of journos fielding questions from a team of high priced lawyers – would pan out. It has left gaping potholes in the roadmap of season two, most visibly the timing of Maggie’s gaudy short red hair. In last week’s climatic episode “One Step Too Many,” the flashbacks proved me wrong – finally providing an excellent bridge to what promised to be an explosive resolution to the Genoa arc.
After the build up, I expected The Newsroom to come out firing. After all, this was a chance to empathically state that it’s a show that can surprise us and could be the last run at proving the show deserves to stick around for another season. Any hope for The Newsroom quickly deflated during Sunday’s “Red Team III” because Sorkin took most of the air out of the post-Jerry Dantana fallout balloon.
Before Sorkin could throw us a few surprises, he spells out how the cable network was “brought to its knees” by the bombshell story. First it’s Don who goes on a rant explaining how ridiculous it is that Jerry is suing ACN for wrongful termination. Don has a problem, as most characters on the show do, of coming off as smug and arrogant while trying to prove a point. His persistence in overstating that Jerry doctored an interview is quickly overshadowed by the institutional failure of ACN. Where the flashbacks worked in other episodes, they handcuff Sorkin in “Red Team III” in scenes where linear storytelling would suffice.
The Newsroom waited a little too long to deliver it’s best moments of the episode. The biggest twist of all might not be Charlie finding out the story was an elaborate scheme by a coveted source, but Leona fervently backing the crew she nearly axed last season. Though even a passionate speech by Jane Fonda isn’t enough to wipe out the complete flip in the id of her character.
Every writing team needs a Jim Harper to stand up and say what half the room is thinking but is ultimately too afraid to say. Unfortunately there’s no Jim who can save The Newsroom from being laughable at times where it needs to pull itself together. Even a 24-hour cable news station breaks for Labor Day as The Newsroom is takes a break next Sunday before the final two episodes air on Sep. 8 and 15. It’s safe to say that Jerry Dantana won’t be the only one fired if HBO’s newsroom fizzles in its final two episodes.